Muslims worldwide will be celebrating Eid-ul-Fitr or ‘Festival of Breaking the Fast’ this week to mark the end of the month-long dawn-to-dusk fasting. Ramadan, the nineth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, marks the revelation of Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad, and lasts between 29 and 30 days, depending on the sighting of the moon. The first day of Shawwal, the 10th month of the lunar Islamic calendar, is celebrated as Eid-ul-Fitr.
The festival begins with Muslims taking a bath or performing an ablution to clean themselves and wearing their best attire before heading to mosques or open spaces called Eidgahs to offer mandatory congregational prayers known as Eid-ul-Fitr prayers. Muslims are also required to pay the Sadaqa-al-Fitr or Zakat-al-Fitr, a charitable donation before the Eid-ul-Fitr prayers. This donation is separate from Zakat, which is one of the five pillars of Islam, a charitable donation that is calculated annually as a percentage of extra wealth.
The congregational Eid prayers are followed by a Khutba or sermon, in which the imams (prayer leaders) thank the Almighty for perseverance to observe fasting during the month of Ramadan and dwell on important issues.
Once the prayers and Khutbah are over, people greet each other and chant the Eid Takbirs aloud. Devotees then head home, usually by taking a different route so as to meet and greet more people, while chanting Takbirs, to celebrate the festival with their families. People also visit the homes of friends and relatives to offer Eid greetings. Special dishes are cooked and served to mark the occasion and the festivities continue till two or three days.